Cristiano Ronaldo makes record transfer claim after Newcastle United owners strike £258m deal

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Cristiano Ronaldo believes his move to Saudi Arabia in January has seen more football superstars consider moving to the Pro League.

Ronaldo joined Al Nassr in January following his release from Manchester United on a world record deal worth a reported £175million-a-year. Since then, Saudi Pro League clubs have made serious efforts to land a number of major signings this summer.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund - who own an 80% stake in Premier League club Newcastle United - confirmed that it had taken a 75% ownership stake in Saudi Pro League teams Al Ahli, Al Nassr, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad. The remaining 25% of each club would be owned by non-profit foundations.

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Following the announcement, Al Ittihad confirmed the major signing of Karim Benzema following his release from Real Madrid. The French striker signed a three-year contract reportedly worth £86million-per-season, totalling £258million.

And Ronaldo claims he set the trend for players to start taking offers from Saudi Arabian clubs seriously, insisting the Pro League will become one of the ‘most important’ in the world.

“Let’s bug people a bit,” Ronaldo said during a press conference. “I knew that me going to Saudi Arabia would open a box and I wasn’t wrong.

“I’m sure in a couple of years or three, this league is going to be one of the most important leagues in the world. We can see that already. Karim left [Real Madrid] already and I am 1000% sure that many more players will.”

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Benzema’s former French team-mate N’Golo Kante is also closing in on joining him in Jeddah after agreeing a two-year deal at Al Ittihad worth £86-per-season.

Still, the Saudi Pro League is set to miss out on its top target this summer with World Cup winning icon Lionel Messi looking likely to join MLS side Inter Miami. The 35-year-old is a free agent following his release from Paris Saint-Germain and Al Hilal have reportedly offered him a two-year deal worth in excess of £1billion.

Newcastle played both Al Ittihad and Al Hilal in friendly matches in 2022. They beat Al Ittihad 2-1 in January before beating Al Hilal 5-0 in December.

Further friendly matches against Saudi Arabian clubs are in the pipeline for The Magpies, though their opposition could be considerably stronger than their previous encounters.

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